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European Research Infrastructures in the International Landscape

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - RISCAPE (European Research Infrastructures in the International Landscape)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

ESFRI Research infrastructures are major investments from the Member states supporting key research areas with shared common resources. They represent facilities, services and data provides crucial to science, technical development, answering to societal and technical challenges and are the key to leading global position of the European Research Area. In recent times, the European landscape of the research infrastructures have been extensively investigated. However, there is a strong need for international landscape analysis: finding out which are the main respective facilities and infrastructures around the world; how we can create better interaction with them, develop together, share resources, and plan complementarities and shared access policies.

The objective of the RISCAPE was to provide systematic, focused, high quality, comprehensive, consistent and peer-reviewed international landscape analysis report on the position and complementarities of the major European research infrastructures in the international research infrastructure landscape.

As conclusions of this activity, the RISCAPE analysed the international landscape of major RIs in all fields of science covered by the European ESFRI RIs, showing many potential partners for further collaboration and alignment towards global RIs capable of answering to global grand challenges, such as Societal Development Goals. This analysis also showed that even though the concept of Research Infrastructure in the form of major single sited facilities is quite common in developed countries, the overall existence of distributed RIs ,as well as RIs in non-traditional fields (e.g. in social sciences, or digital humanities), are much less common in nature. Excellence based or (in the case of data) fully open access is relatively common, but there are major exceptions, differences and sometimes limitations to these norms to access the facilities. Although the project faces some difficulties in finding responses for the analysis done, the overall coverage of the answers provides a fertile background for further international collaboration, development plans and integration of the science communities and facilities. Additionally, the project developed analysis methodology (structured interviews) is available for further use in such analyses.
The RISCAPE work was built on work phases:
1) European engagement, where the diciplinary RISCAPE teams collected information from the European RIs in their cluster projects and other major European facilities. This information
2) Methods development was a key part of the preparatory phase of the project, where the selected methodology (controlled interviews) was developed. This work was also directed on defining many of the details associated on methods, information to be collected, and terminological issues (including the definition of a research infrastructure), together with the the Stakeholder panel.
3) International engagement, where the previously identified potential RIs were contacted and, if considered potentially interesting, interviewed
4) Consolidation and quality control, where the results from the engagement were then consolidated to a consistent report and contact list
5) Analysis of the landscape and finalisation of the report.

The overall results of the action can be summarised as
1) The RISCAPE landscape survey was created, together with detailed contact information of the found RIs
2) The detailed information of the contacted RIs was collected and available on specified request (due to personal data involved)
3) The RISCAPE methodology was defined and documented. An additional publication is being prepared (non-paid part of the project work), but even the current deliverables create a potential for re-using the methodology

The Report itself consisted of many critical findings, of which the most crucial were
1) The found RIs were clearly concentrated on major world economical powers. However, potentially due to the difficulties finding and contacting, only a few facilities in Russia and China were analysed. There are many developments in new areas though, and few initiatives in S. America and Africa were also found
2) Most found facilities are concentrated in the fields were RIs are traditional, such as Physics, Energy, and Astronomy. Few or none were found in the areas of Social sciences and digital humanities, cultural heritage, and languages. Part of this is due to definition of an RI used, but there is a clear uniqueness to approach these facilities as RIs in Europe, not found in other parts of the world
3) The organisational modes of the RIs were highly different in different countries, ranging from loose networks to government agencies. This heterogeneity was even more clear in the distributed facilities. The funding models were also generally heteroneous, and significant part of the analysed RIs did not have concrete funding models for medium term sustainability
4) Access to facilities was often excellence based, or in the case of data - open. However, this was not generally true, especially for international scientists.
5) The indicators for success for RIs were a challenge in almost all countries, particularly in the socio-economical impact of the facilities.
The methodology of the RISCAPE project provides a more consistent approach to research infrastructure landscape efforts. It is based on wide literature analysis, stakeholder need mapping and best practices of data collection. As the organisations and facilities providing research infrastructure - like services differ widely internationally, the RISCAPE is based on individual interviews, where the interview questions are aimed towards gaining a holistic understanding on the organisation capabilities, goals and services. The overall methodology is targeted on collecting consistent information on the research infrastructures broadly based on following categories:
1) general information, contacts, etc. 2) Does the organisation fit on the RISCAPE definition of an Research Infrastructure (based on longevity, scale of operations - impact, science-orientation? 3) services provided to researchers, access policies, 4) interdependencies, 5) potential collaboration opportunities. The results are stored in a common platform and are agreed with the respondent.
A second major achievement of the project was the collection of a consistent idea of existing connections of ESFRI RIs to international RIs and a potential list of future collaboration targets.
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